Bob in the loch, Jan at the oars

Thursday, 6 August 2015


That's it, then. In the water, quick row and all's well with Bob. In fact I would not hesitate to claim that this was among my all time favourites, along side the faerings.

So, here's the evidence. What do you reckon? Is Vendia planking, glued with Collano Semparoc, with Vendia laminated frames, riveted to the shell, not a fine way to build a clinker boat? Better than traditional larch on oak, perhaps? A modern alternative to an old method that may have had its day? Or just a better way than building in plywood and epoxy.

And as far as I am aware, this is a world first: the first Vendia/Collano clinker boat, and one of the first of Paul Gartside's elegant Bobs to be built in clinker, rather than strip plank.

How did she row? What do you reckon...!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Down the Road

Philip and Liz arrived last Monday to collect their new boat. No time to launch but we did raise the mast before strapping her to the trailer for the long haul south.

 I am quite pleased with the larch sheer strake, which adds a touch of class and various small modifications to the layout.

Steve Hall made the sails, and Jeremy Freeland the spars. The long-suffering Alec Jordan kitted the boat and. incidentally, if anyone wants to build one I have the jig available for sale or hire, which would represent a considerable saving.

What can I say? A very nice boat for a very pleasant couple who will, I hope, have many pleasant hours sailing her.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

On Reflection

As the first of the two boats occupying the Old Milking Parlour awaits her new owner, it was time to reflect on boats built past and present. The Ilur and 16ft Gartside skiff, a traditional Breton design and a West Country rowing boat, will be the last new boats for a while as I concentrate on repairs, and try and make the most of a summer that has barely begun up here.

All have been designed, or based on traditional designs, often, as in the case of the faerings, dating back centuries. Most have been built using time-honoured materials and methods; some methods have been brought up to date, but still  keeping with tradition. As the old saying goes: if the vikings had had glassfibre, they would have used it (although I am not so sure...)

It is ironic that, having been so scathing about plywood and epoxy, I have at last come around to accepting the method, if not the materials. I still have little love for epoxy, for its mess and mixing and waste, and rot-cut marine ply I will maintain looks horrid under varnish, and is better painted, so don't waste money on the super duper stuff.

But if I had to build in plywood and glue, then this is the method I would choose. Collano/Vendia lapstrake.

Instead of epoxy I have been using Collano Semparoc for some years now, and recently I discovered Vendia, a lovely Finnish laminate made from pine, of which Finland has vast, inexhaustible forests. And it comes in handy sized boards, not 8 x 4in monstrosities.

12ft skiff; Vendia pine or solid larch?
Not only does it take varnish and looks great, but it is lovely to work And Bob is proof, I reckon, of that. So, if anyone would like to start building glued lapstrake boats out of a wood laminate that look nice varnished, and using a glue that makes them a pleasure to build, give me a call.

And to illustrate the full circle, I put together a selection of some of the boats I have built over the years, both traditionally built and not quite so. Here they are:

15ft fishing skiff in larch and oak

Atkin Ninigret launch (Robbins Elite plywood)

Traditional lugsail

15ft Scottish type lug sail

Viking faering, in larch

 Arctic Tern in larch/oak

19ft, 1930s sjekte and little 12ft sister

Cradle boat

15ft Norwegian-type rowing boat

Tammie Norrie pulling boat

Karsten Ausland, 1930s racing sjekte

Sailing lugsail double ender

Oughtred Faering

Caledonia Yawl in plywood/Vendia lapstrake

Gartside 16ft skiff in Vendia/Collano

Faering for Viking re-enactment society
Francois Vivier Breton sailing boat in plywood/Collano

Thursday, 19 March 2015


Throwing away the plans, once again as they refer to strip plank, and with laminated and riveted frames there was little choice but to make the gunwales open, in traditional style. Robbins Timber in Bristol supplied the Douglas fir which was planed down to around 15mm x 30mm, riveted to the frames then planed down again, not quite horizontal, but maybe 20 degrees sloping outwards. The rowlock bases will be angled inwards by the same amount to keep the pins vertical, or I may set the pin vertically into bases that slope outwards. Decisions, decisions...

Small spacer pieces, offcuts from the frames, were then glued and riveted, two forward, two aft to stiffen the last, unsupported sections of gunwale as they swept in to the stems. I quite like the way they parallel the sheerstrakes, before taking a direct line to the stem, where some sort of breasthook will tie all together.

Suddenly the hull has become almost stiff enough to plonk in the water and row.

Meanwhile the shape of the stem horns was roughed out according to the plans, and thoughts now turn to the rubbing strips and thwarts, again departing from the plans in order to make best use of the framing. Probably a short, but sturdy riser will go in from frames 3 to 9 and the thwarts fitted on top, the aft one moveable in case the owner wants to row solo.